Posts tagged Banking
In a move that enhances its mobile management toolkit, push notification service Urban Airship has acquired Tello, a Palo Alto-based company that helps businesses and app-makers create passes for Apple’s Passbook.
The move comes on the heels of Urban Airship’s purchase last year of mobile location service SimpleGeo. Urban Airship’s acquisition of Tello could potentially double its market given that it can now help businesses without apps create digital coupons, tickets and loyalty cards through Passbook.
Since its founding in 2009, Urban Airship, based in Portland, Ore., has specialized in offering high-quality push notifications and a slew of other services that come bundled with tiered plans. The company has raised more $20 million after three rounds of funding–including an injection from TrueVentures, which also invested in Tello–and earned it a list of impressive clients like Airbnb and ESPN.
With the acquisition of Tello and its PassTools product, Urban Airship is banking on the rise of the digital wallet and opening itself up to everyone from mom-and-pop shops wanting to offer local deals to big-name companies currently seeing poor results from age-old paper coupons.
Will Passbook Succeed?
Passbook debuted on Apple’s iOS6 in September but so far hasn’t made a big splash, generating comparisons to the now-defunct Ping. But some wonder if it is just a matter of time before companies catch on to the inevitability of “the iWallet.”
“The combination of push messaging, passes and location-targeting offer an easy yet sophisticated solution for businesses to drive more successful pass programs,” Urban Airship CEO Scott Kveton said in a press release.
Neither company released numbers on the acquisition, though it was stressed that it was an all-stock deal, with Urban Airship taking over Tello’s Palo Alto office and Tello CEO Joe Beninato gaining the title of General Manager of Digital Wallet.
Kveton says Tello’s PassTools will be integrated into Urban Airship’s product bundles sometime next year.
View full post on ReadWrite
If you walk into your local Barnes & Noble looking for a copy of Timothy Ferriss‘s new book, good luck. Even though he’s a New York Times best selling author, the giant book retailer refuses to sell The 4-Hour Chef, the latest in his series of self-help books.
Ferriss isn’t worried. He’s banking on the power of digital distribution to make up for any losses in print sales. Ironically, one of his most effective tools may end up being something most content creators have grown to fear, if not outright despise: BitTorrent.
After publishing two wildly successful books via traditional means, Ferriss decided to try something different. In August, he signed on with Amazon’s new publishing arm to release the follow-up to his 2010 health and fitness guide, The 4-Hour Body. That ruffled the features of not just traditional publishers, but also bricks-and-mortar retailers like Barnes and Noble, who object to the e-bookstore exclusivity Amazon requires of its authors. That’s why you won’t find Ferriss’s latest opus down the street at Barnes & Noble.
As fast as e-books are growing, the lack of a presence in the nation’s largest physical book retailer is a still serious handicap. To combat it, Ferriss struck a deal with BitTorrent earlier this month to distribute an exclusive bundle of content and, he hopes, sell a few extra books.
“We were both eager to do something to demonstrate that the same type of tools that disrupted music and film can be harnessed to benefit the content creators in publishing,” says Ferriss.
How BitTorrent Is Moving Beyond Piracy
But wait. BitTorrent? Aren’t they the bad guys?
To be sure, forging a partnership with the company behind the same-peer-to-peer filesharing technology that fuels rampant piracy would be unthinkable for most major publishers. In fact, they’re sometimes known to sue BitTorrent users for downloading e-books. But the San Francisco-based company is working hard to rebrand itself as a legitimate partner for content creators, and there’s no better way to do that than by partnering with established creators like Ferriss.
For Ferriss, BitTorrent is just an incredibly efficient way to distribute content to a large number of users. And BitTorrent has plenty of them. When asked why he wanted to enter into this partnership, the first words out of Ferriss’s mouth were “one hundred and sixty million users.” It’s hard to argue with that.
Here’s how it works: To coincide with the launch of his book, Ferriss put together a folder of additional, exclusive content: a 62-page PDF previewing the book, behind-the-scenes photos, videos and early, hand-marked notes. It’s pretty meaty, but doesn’t come anywhere close to spoiling the 672-page book he’s trying to sell.
It’s not just that this content bundle is available for free to Bit Torrent users. It’s that Ferriss’s face – along with a link to download the bundle torrent and buy the book – is on Bit Torrent’s homepage, from which hundreds of thousands of users download the file-sharing client every day.
BitTorrent has been experimenting with this type of featured content for about two years. The list of artists it has partnered with includes increasingly higher profile names like The Counting Crows, DJ Shadow and Pretty Lights, an American DJ and producer. BitTorrent has also worked directly with the Internet Archive to make more than one petabyte of public-domain content available via the P2P network.
It’s all part of the company’s effort not to just to distance itself from piracy, but to figure out how it can be a bigger part of the legitimate future of digital distribution.
“If you look at what BitTorrent really is, it’s quite simply the best way to move ones and zeros across the Internet,” says Matt Mason, the company’s Executive Director of Marketing. That makes it a valuable tool for creators, but also helps the company figure out its own strategy moving forward.
“The reason we’re doing all of this is to try and figure out what to build next,” says Mason. That is, if these experiments work, the company can develop tools to help publishers and artists launch their own promotional campagns and take even better advantage of the platform.
Is This Experiment Working?
So does partnering with BitTorrent work? The early numbers look promising, even if they’re not all the kind of hard dollar figures media executives want to see. The payoff is less direct that that, but it can still be huge. Pretty Lights, for example, may or may not have sold more records as a result of publishing his BitTorrent bundle of free music and video of a live performance. But after his bundle soared to the top of Pirate Bay’s download chart, the DJ saw a 700% increase in traffic to his website, collected 100,000 email addresses and, probably not entirely by coincidence, sold out two concerts at the Red Rocks amphitheater in Colorado.
For Ferriss, it’s still too early to tell. But the initial numbers aren’t bad. In the first week of the campaign, his bundle has been downloaded 211,000 times, BitTorrent told ReadWrite. More than 85,000 people have clicked through to the book’s listing on Amazon (no word on how many ordered it), while 27,000 people viewed the book’s trailer on YouTube.
Even if the book only sold 100 extra copies, Ferris says, the promotion would have been worth it to him, because the amount of setup time required was so minimal. He expects to sell far more copies than that, but the real value comes in experimenting with new distribution channels. He is “not overly concerned” about the prospect of his e-book itself being shared on BitTorrent, which he views as a valuable promotional tool.
“One of many reasons to embrace new technologies or new applications of existing technologies is the benefit that you get of being first,” says Ferriss. If nothing else, such a paradoxical-seeming partnership has a way of garnering more media coverage than a typical book launch.
“It’s a wide open field for people to play in,” Ferriss says. “Very few people have taken advantage of this so I would absolutely recommend it.”
View full post on ReadWrite
If you thought you had your online banking security situation under control, along comes this chilling blog entry from security vendor Trusteer about some really nasty stuff they observed over the holiday break. And especially for those of you that have chosen paperless statements, you want to read it carefully and understand the exploit.
Basically, the bad guys have figured out a full-service series of attacks that take money from your debit card account and then proceed to show you a series of screens that cover up the transaction. They use a variety of malware tools to insert themselves in the middle of your transactions to steal your account information, then quickly debit your account. The next time you login to your bank, you are seeing the faked screens that don’t display this transaction.
If you are still one of the people that receive the paper statements in the mail, you will spot it, but only if you are really careful about reconciling your account. If you don’t get the printed statements, you may never see the transactions from the fraudster.
As Amit Klein writes on the company’s blog, “The malware hides the fraudulent transactions in the view transactions page, as well as artificially changing the total fraudulent transaction amount to balance the totals. As a result, the deceived customer has no idea that their account has been taken over, nor that any fraudulent transactions have taken place.” Yikes!
Make sure your browser is up to date and if you have the option to install anti-phishing protection, now would be a good time to make sure that it is working. Most modern browsers have this enabled but it is worth reviewing if you are scared enough by this exploit. Happy holidays, everyone.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
BankSimple, the highly anticipated web-only bank being built with an emphasis on user experience and no fees, is getting closer to launching, the company said today. CEO Joshua Reich put up a blog post this afternoon announcing that BankSimple has secured partnerships with VISA, Barcorp and other institutions to enable its customers to get transaction rewards and have their deposits FDIC insured. Additionally, the company announced that it has grown its venture capital war-chest from $3.1 million to $13.1 million. The company is testing its products now and says it will launch within the year.
In announcing supporting partnerships with more traditional banking institutions, Reich emphasized that the company carefully selected partners that shared its opposition to surprise fees and that support “modern real-time systems that enable deep connectivity with the BankSimple platform.” That’s key to understanding the true nature of BankSimple’s aims.
Joshua Reich lead several data-intensive high tech startups before co-founding BankSimple in 2009. The company was founded on a desire to combine real-time data, strong user experience, design and customer service and an app-platform type approach. The company made a big splash when it hired Alex Payne, the original leader of the Twitter developer platform. Last Summer, BankSimple opened up a public discussion about its app platform and what could be done with it.
Ideas discussed included things like using the company’s mobile app to annotate transactions while still inside stores (for categorization and analysis), the creation of subaccounts, of course off-site 3rd party personal finance apps tied to a user’s bank account and more.
Reich says that many of his competitors are thinking about remaking banking only as deep as a thin layer of visual interface. “They don’t do anything that fixes the foundation of the bank,” he says.
“These banks are built on decades-old batch processing systems. They may improve the appearance, but it’s not improving the fidelity of the data. Customers have a lot of questions about their data and banks make it hard to answer those questions because of things like a lack of real time data and annotation.
“When you swipe a card at the store today, the merchant sends a message through the Visa or Mastercard network and it arrives at your bank within a second with up to 120 fields of information included. They know your location, which terminal of a store you’re in, whether you’re in the pharmacy section of a Walmart or the register section. They know what category of transaction it is. They have a hugely rich corpus of information about every transaction and they just throw it out. All the bank cares about from a balance perspective is whether the transaction can be paid for.
“This was all designed when storage was expensive and real time processing wasn’t the norm. We [BankSimple] keep all that information; storage is cheap and we do it all in real time. We correlate things with Simplegeo so we know what kind of store it is. We have really powerful search, all fast because it’s done browser side. You can say coffee last week in New York and see all the maps and all the details like how much you spent on coffee vs lunch that week. All this information makes people feel less anxious about their money.”
Right: BankSimple CEO Josh Reich. Prior to co-founding BankSimple, Reich ran a think tank focused on “basic research that develops fundamental models for understanding the environment in which a firm operates and how to question the unknown.”
Reich says that while some big banks are talking about far-out ideas like 3D bank statements, his company is focusing on the basics of User Experience design, typography and making it easy to leverage feedback loops with your purchasing data.
“People turn to tools like Quicken, Mint or Wasabi because they have questions about their money – but there are huge barriers to getting those working right,” he says. “So you’ll only ask really important questions at times like like tax season. But on some random Thursday, you might be curious about something. If you know how difficult it is to ask that question – you won’t. As a result, people have all these unanswered questions and that just makes them more anxious about their money.”
Demand for Change
Market conditions for such innovation appear favorable. A small majority of bank customers feel good about their banks – but they don’t like their websites or off-line branches. The 8th annual World Retail Banking Report from Capgemini this year, for example, found that 59% of surveyed banking customers in 25 countries are satisfied with the banks they use. United States banking customers were the most satisfied in the world.
Globally, only 35% of banking customers reported positive or very positive customer experiences, in braches and online for example. In the US that number was 53%.
Analyst firm Gartner said last year that traditional online banking faces a serious challenge from a new class of service providers focused on more advanced financial operations than mere transactions. “Most bank offerings have limited forecasting and analytical tools and don’t cleanly support multiple bank relationships,” says Gartner’s Douglas McKibben. Traditional banks need “a wake-up call,” McKibben wrote, “regarding the need for responsive, personalized customer applications.” “In the longer term, the concept of a proprietary online commercial banking platform will be obsolete,” McKibben wrote in a related report with Stessa Cohen, “and banks will only orchestrate and not control access to services and information.”
It seems that there is a lot of opportunity, then, to use the web to deliver a more satisfactory customer experience. BankSimple aims to take real-time technology, an emphasis on user experience and a customer-centric refusal of fee madness into the fight.
The company’s hand got a lot stronger with today’s news.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry to Host Internet Marketing Academy – American Banking News (press release)
MINDSCAPE at Hanon McKendry to Host Internet Marketing Academy
American Banking News (press release)
The Mindscape Internet Marketing Academy is a two-day SEO training and social media training class scheduled for May 12-13, 2011 in Grand Rapids, MI. The hands-on workshop is designed for marketing, PR and communications officers; business and …
View full post on SEO – Google News
SEO Technology Rapidly Becoming the Norm in Search Marketers’ Online Toolbox – American Banking News (press release)
SEO Consult and Marlows Certified Diamonds Celebrate 18 Months Together – American Banking News (press release)
SEO Consult and Marlows Certified Diamonds Celebrate 18 Months Together
American Banking News (press release)
Cheshire, United Kingdom – SEO Consult and Marlows Certified Diamonds are nearing 18 months since their business partnership began, in which time they have helped Marlows rank highly for targeted terms to attract more local and national visitors to …
View full post on SEO – Google News
Ericsson, the world’s largest mobile telecom equipment maker, has today launched its own mobile banking system called Ericsson Money Services. This business is designed to make mobile money transactions both easier and more available to those without access to traditional “brick-and-mortar” banks. Initially, it plans to rival established money transfer services like Western Union and MoneyGram, but over the next few years, it may end up competing with credit cards as well.
Ericsson Money Services: Person-to-Person Money Transfers Worldwide
According to Ericsson, the mobile payments market is expected to reach $27.7 billion (20 billion euros) annually by 2015. Over the next two to three years, person-to-person money transfers will become one of the most-used mobile applications in many countries, the company says, totalling around 600 billion euros by 2015.
Ericsson has been developing its mobile money transfer service for two years in both Asian and European markets, where it was performing proof of concept work and making other preparations. Now its solution fulfills all the necessary regulatory, legal and security requirements needed to get a service like this off the ground, it says.
Like its traditional counterparts, the new mobile money service will offer the ability to send payments across borders, and will support currency conversions. The target customers for the service are not the end users of a such a service themselves, but financial institutions, mobile operators and other service providers who would then deliver the service through a partnership with Ericsson to the end users.
According to Semir Mahjoub, Ericsson’s head of the new mobile banking system, the company’s global presence is its main asset in this case. “We expect to have a reasonable share of the market,” he said.
“A new market is opening up consisting of consumers whose first meeting with banks will take place over a mobile phone and who may never own a plastic credit card,” he explained. “People who may never enter a bricks-and-mortar bank now have the opportunity to ‘walk’ into a virtual bank using their phone.”
Ericsson’s Competition in a Growing Market
Ericsson’s initiative is only one of many new mobile banking programs either in development or now launching. Telefónica SA and MasterCard recently partnered on a mobile payments solution for Latin America; in the U.S., Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T have teamed up to offer a mobile payments solution in conjunction with Barclay’s and Discover called Isis; Visa is launching a mobile payments solution called In2Pay; Google is also preparing a mobile payments service, reportedly; and MasterCard, PayPal and others have developed mobile money sending apps for smartphones.
In other words, it may end up being a crowded market, but it’s one that’s booming.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
Since 2007, mobile banking has more than doubled in use. According to analyst firm Forrester, this trend will continue, with usage again doubling by 2015, but analyst Emmet Higdon says that a few changes and realizations need to be made for mobile banking to really catch on.
According to Higdon, mobile banking lacks “any clear differentiated functionality” and “appeals most strongly to those consumers already inclined to use the mobile channel.” To really gain adoption, says Higdon, “U.S. banks will need to enhance today’s functionality significantly.”
Forrester reports that mobile banking has undergone rapid adoption, more than doubling from 5% of online users in 2007 to 12% in Q2 of 2010. By 2015, this number is predicted to nearly double again, with one in five U.S. adults using mobile banking.
“To reach one in five US adults, as Forrester predicts mobile banking will do by 2015,” writes Higdon, “U.S. banks will need to enhance today’s functionality significantly to create a unique value proposition that resonates with both online and offline consumers.”
Higdon suggests that banks introduce innovative features like mobile remote deposit, make common activities even simpler to do by using mobile apps, and use the unique characteristics of mobile devices (such as GPS coordinates) to offer additional functionality. Why would banks want to get people accessing their accounts on the go? It’s all about the bucks, of course. With the current offerings, writes Higdon, “banks are not realizing the full benefit of switching customers to cheaper servicing channels, but instead are seeing cannibalization of one low-cost channel (online) by another (mobile).”
What do you want to see in your mobile banking app? Does an augmented reality-style ATM search pique your interest or would you rather deposit checks via camera?
“The real ROI from mobile banking will come from engaging the 40% of US consumers who today do not bank online,” concludes Higdon. “Simply replicating today’s online banking functionality will not get the job done.”
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